Help! Returned to Work and Having a Really Hard Time Balancing Everything

Updated on July 31, 2009
J.L. asks from Canoga Park, CA
5 answers

I returned to work last week after being a SAHM since my twins were born 2 1/2 years ago. My twins are now 2 1/2 and my oldest is 4. I had hoped not to return to work full-time until they were a bit older, but I was unable to find part-time work and we need some extra income. I am an accountant. The position I found appeared to be a good fit for my skills. I was very up-front about my time not working and that I have 3 young children. I was asked about how I would handle occasional longer hours during month-end close process and I said that I had some flexibility because my husband worked close and had flexible hours.

Now the problem. I took "occasional" to mean a couple of times a month. This would have been consistent with previous places I've worked. Well, the reality is that it appears to be regular overtime. I've only been there 5 days and 3 of them have required overtime and last minute adjustment with my husband's work schedule. He way outearns me, so we can't continue to sacrifice his work for this job on a regular basis. My husband now has an all day meeting scheduled a couple of hours commute from our home on Thursday. This only happens about once a quarter. Anyway, it happens to fall on the exact day that my boss tells me I need to count on working late. I really can't afford a sitter for the 3 kids for the whole evening and we don't have friends or family in the area. I guess with all this info, you can see why I'm thinking this is a bad fit. I feel guilty for spending so little time with my children (they are having a difficult time with the sudden changes) and for not being able to put in the long hours that others in the department are doing (only 2 co-workers have children, but they are much older than mine). I do want to be a team player, but reality is what it is. Anyway, I'm grateful to have easily found employment, just wondering if it maybe came too easily.

My questions are:
1) Is working regular long hours something I should expect in this area given the current economic climate?
2) Does anyone have good ideas for part-time (30 hours/week) accounting work?
3) How do you all manage to balance work and family and how long did it take to achieve some semblance of balance????
4) Any suggestions?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the replies. They did give me some good alternative ideas. It's still a pretty awful place to work, but I'm currently just focusing on the paycheck and getting our family into a better financial position. Hopefully, things will be looking up by the end of the year for us. I'm going to work on finding a part-time position somewhere or finding some contract work on my own. I'm hesitant to start up my own business right now as my husband will likely need to relocate with his work within the coming year. Unfortunately, I did have to pay out a decent chunk of cash for sitters this week, so if that continues this work will be of little benefit and I'll have an immediate answer about what I need to do. I wish that our salaries were enough to afford babysitters, but it's just not something we can do right now, especially before I've even received my first check.

More Answers



answers from San Diego on

Hi J., being a mom and a wife is a full time job in it's self, your children are small for a brief time in life, and if you look away to you miss it. thats why i start a home daycare when my 3 were in elementry school, they are all grown now, and i still have my business, I choose my hours, i choose my policy, my responsibilities to my home and family are fulfiled, I have the pleasure of making adifference in the lives of small children, no commute so save money on gas, and wear and tear on my car. it can't hurt to think about it. J. l.

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answers from San Diego on

Gack. Where were you last year before my husband got a job that comes with a staff lawyer & accountant??? We've spent the past year climbing out of the mess of being in school for the past 6 years.

I'll tell you what: The SHEER number of my friends (mostly with young children, but many without...all over this country) who need a personal accountant (to help with budgeting, sound financial planning, LT planning, saving, taxes, bill prioritizing, the legalities of x,y,z...start up home businesses, music businesses, art businesses)....but either a) can't afford the typical $100-$300 dollar an hour fee or b) don't know where to staggering.

Do you know where I know all of these people from? Schools. Pick a name University. We're broke. We're raising families. We're just starting our careers. (Lovely climate for that, what?) In some cases we're paying 3 tuitions or more (mum, dad, and preschool), juggling credit cards, quarterly financial aid checks, and multiple jobs. Our finances are the definition of "learning curve".

If you had cut rates or sliding scale, and marketed yourself to students (especially grad students in nearly any non-business/law degree...or...any community college where we're saving on OUR educations in order to pay for our children's education/daycare... to art students who are putting themselves through school by selling their work on the side, essentially starting their own business), and especially if you could time your bills with financial aid could set your own hours, & work from your (or their) kitchen tables.

I have a friend up in Seattle who does something similar the beginning he (stay at home dad), just booked people when he he has his "office hours" of Thursday evenings 5-9, Friday days 12-6, and Saturday days from 12-6. He has flat rates for certain services, hourly rates for others, and bills quarterly. For some of his clients he actually handles all of their income & bills (I'm not real clear on what that would probably know better that I, limited power of attorney i THINK). But those clients he just handles the majority of the time online. Money making time (when he gets his wife to use up a weeks vacation so he can work 24/7 is the week before taxes, because all of his regular clients are sending their friends to him)...but he makes a decent living these days working what? 16 hours a week + time when the babies are napping or asleep. When he first started I helped him flyer at all the local colleges (student unions, daycare facilities, dorms, etc.) back when I was single & childless. Seattle, come to find, in addition to the UW has about a gazillion community colleges and 3 private universities. San Diego/LA make that look like nothing.

Anyhow. Just a thought.

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answers from Los Angeles on

It definitely sounds like a wrong fit and that the comapany wasn't up front with you. There is no way to balance a full time job and family, and the kids are the ones who suffer. You tried it, it didn't work. Get out of there quick as it will only get worse.

The personal accountant is a great idea if you really want to work a little. Then you can set your own terms. Search out family owned business' as they are smaller, less work involved, and usually more flexible.

Another way to contribute to the household income is by saving money. Being home you'll have time to scope the ads for deals, clip coupons, go on free outings, prepare home-cooked meals and cutting out the stuff you don't need. All of these things contribute to the budget, just in a different way.

There are other jobs that understands a parent priorites. You'll just have to look around a bit. I work in daycare which is usually a 40 hour job. I am lucky enough to have a boss who allows me to stay home whenver my kids are out of school.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Hein Sight is always 20/20 but I probably would've asked what exactly does "occasional" OT consist of... 3 out of 5 days is a bit excessive to be calling it occasional. I would hope they would understand your situation and be flexible enough to work around your schedule, but it sounds like maybe this isn't the right fit for you. I understand your concern about starting your own business, however have you considered looking into a home-business, maybe not necessarily one that dealt with accounting, but one that could be flexible enough to work around your current situation and that could easily move with you when you relocate as well as potentially allow you the freedom to leave the workplace and generate enough income that you could stay at home full-time? If you're interested, I would be happy to share the details. You are welcome to visit my website if you'd like



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.,

Finding balance between work and family can be difficult. I think with the economy the way it is, it seems that many employers are using this as a scare tactic to get employees to work more hours. People do it because they feel losing their jobs. One solution that works for many people is hiring an au pair. With an au pair, you set the work hours. If your child is sick, the au pair can still take care of them in the comfort of your home. An au pair becomes sort of part of the family. People are matched with au pairs based on common interests, personalities and child care needs. The cost of an au pair is the same if you have one child or five children. Families who choose this option for child care say that an au pair gives them peace of mind. If you would like to learn more visit or call K. ###-###-####. Good Luck to you!

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